After Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said his team doesn't strike fear into opponents, the ballclub snapped a season-high six-game slide.
Whether it was a ploy to motivate the players, Manuel's words must have resonated with some players, including Shane Victorino. Victorino was 3-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored and five RBI in last night's 9-6 win over the Baltimore Orioles in the opener of a three-game series at Camden Yards.
Victorino hopes to provide a spark once more and get some help along the way Saturday afternoon in the middle portion of this interleague series. Mike Fontenot hit a two-run homer and Jim Thome, fresh off the disabled list, collected three hits, a pair of runs scored and an RBI for the Phillies, who put the brakes on their skid and kicked off a nine-game trek in style.
"Charlie knows what's best," Victorino said on the team's website. "When he makes a statement like that, he knows how to rally his troops. He knows how to get us motivated better than anybody. I've been here since the turnaround when we weren't this team that we are and can be."
Phillies starter Joe Blanton surrendered five runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out seven over 6 2/3 innings to earn the win. Jonathan Papelbon hurled a scoreless ninth to record his 16th save of the season.
"The way things have been going for me right now, I don't even think about [run support]," said Blanton, who was bailed out by his offense with a 7-0 lead. "I'm just trying to survive out there with the way it's going mechanically and everything."
The Phillies are 13-5 in the last 18 road games and 17-12 overall as the visitor this season (12-19 at home). They are still last in the NL East at six games off the pace. Placido Polanco did not play because of a left wrist injury and could miss this weekend's series. According to the team's site, Polanco received a cortisone injection on Friday morning because of a "small tear" in a tendon. He also had stitches for a cut on his left index finger.
Phils youngster Vance Worley will make his second start Saturday since a stint on the disabled list because of right elbow inflammation and a bone chip. He did not record a decision in Monday's 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers and lasted only four innings, allowing three runs and five hits with four K's and three walks.
Worley was held to 80 pitches and showed signed of rust in his first appearance since May 11 versus San Diego. The bespectacled righty is 3-2 with a 3.37 earned run average in eight starts and is 2-1 in four road outings. Worley has never faced the Orioles in his career.
Baltimore, meanwhile, has dropped two straight, three of five and nine of its last 12 games to fall one game back of Tampa Bay in the AL East. New York is second in that division at one-half game behind the Rays.
Jake Arrieta got the start for the Orioles last night and was roughed up for nine runs and 11 hits in only four innings of work.
"I'm just kind of lost right now," said Arrieta, who extended his losing streak to a career-long six games.
J.J. Hardy hit a two-run homer and Chris Davis clubbed a solo shot in defeat. Orioles slugging outfielder Adam Jones was 0-for-4 and is hitless in his last 14 at-bats. Jones also had a 13-game home hitting streak come to an end, and has hit in 24 of his last 28 games, going 34-for-111.
The Orioles will also host Pittsburgh for three games on their homestand and are expected to call up Tommy Hunter to start tonight. Hunter will be added to the 25-man roster in time to make his 11th start of the season and has also spent time with Triple-A Norfolk.
Hunter hasn't won since April 24 versus Toronto and is 0-2 in his last six starts. He lasted just three innings in a 6-2 loss at the Blue Jays on May 28, as he gave up six runs -- five earned -- and nine hits. He is 2-3 with a 5.59 earned run average in 10 starts this season and has never faced Philadelphia.
The right-handed Hunter is hoping to earn a spot in the rotation and is 2-1 in five starts at Camden Yards.
The Orioles swept the Phillies in three games back in 2009 at Citizens Bank Park and has won five of the last seven matchups between the clubs. Baltimore, of course, defeated Philadelphia in five games to win the 1983 World Series.
Philadelphia has won seven of its last 11 road interleague games.